If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a picture of words worth?
Spelling mistake or assertion about the relationship of truth to intestinal fortitude? Martin Luther would surely disagree, for in his case getting to the truth was intimately dependent upon getting loose, and the entire fate of the Medieval Church hung in the balance. Luther’s was one divine and hellacious struggle.
By the time Alberto Fujimori got loose and began to deal with his struggles, he was a wanted man. President of Peru from 1992 to 2000, he defeated the Shining Path revolutionaries by resorting to atrocities that rivaled those of this enemies. The dirty war in Peru took over 70,000 lives on both sides, and mass graves of military executions are still being found. Peru’s Equipo Peruano de Antropología Forense (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team) has made a striking documentary of the largest grave site, If I Don’t Come Back, Look for Me in Putis. After losing the 2000 presidential race, Fujimori fled to Japan after corruption schemes involving over a billion dollars came to light. He returned to South America in 2005 to run for president again the following year, but instead he was arrested, tried, convicted, and thrown in jail. With or without the truth, Fujimori was finally the loser.
Notes and Credits
All photographs were taken by the author, except as otherwise noted.
“Trust your struggle” appears on the approach ramp to the Ft. Hamilton Parkway Subway Station in Kensington, Brooklyn (zip code = 11218).
“Without truth you are the looser” was taken in Lisbon, Portugal in 2000. The ironies of this photograph go well beyond its mispelling. But that’s all I’m saying here.
“Fujimori Presidente” was also taken in 2000, on a trip I took to Peru with students from the college where I taught at the time. This political graffiti was seen on a fairly desolate road in the altiplano, the high plains of the Andes Mountains. We were on a bus on our way over the continental divide, which we crossed at around 16,000 feet, and then down, down, down to the Manu River Forest Preserve. The Manu River is a tributary of the Amazon River which at this point has just come rushing down from the Andes and is settling into the massive river it will become with each new tributary on its 2,000+ mile journey to the Atlantic Ocean at Belém.
“William Wordsworth” is an image from the Wikimedia Commons of what is apparently an 1873 reproduction of an 1839 watercolor of the poet by Margaret Gillies (1803-1887).
The Importance of Place: Fort Hamilton Subway Station
The Ft. Hamilton station is beneath an expressway interchange, where the Prospect Expressway empties out on to (or begins at, depending on your vantage) Ocean Parkway, beneath the Ft. Hamilton Parkway overpass. Ocean Parkway is a major thoroughfare running south to Coney Island from Prospect Park. It’s a folkloric parkway lined with trees and sidewalks where people are walking every day of the week, at all hours it seems. Kareem Fahim posted this wonderful story on Ocean Parkway in the Times on October 10, 2008.
Here’s a video, working hard to be experimental, on the Parkway …
And this one, with a bowling theme, which is big here. In summer camp they take the kids at least once a week, from age 5 on up.
The Prospect Expressway links Ocean Parkway to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the BQE as we call it. This interchange is a concrete manifestation (literally) of Robert Moses’s dreams for New York. Moses served in various posts involved in urban planning and development, and from the 1930s to the 1970s he managed to thoroughly remake the city and Long Island’s highway system, housing agencies, and parks, which we have taken up before in Truth and Rocket Science, in The truth and change, 2: Technoredemption Goes Pro and The truth and set theory: more on Mr. McNamara. The Fort Hamilton interchange is one small of Robert Moses’s living legacy.
The photograph above is found on the Wikimedia Commons. To the right is the beginning of Ocean Parkway, where the Prospect Expressway empties out. The person walking away in the photo has just passed “Trust your Struggle,” to the left, on the side of another retaining wall, as is obvious from the way that he (or she?) is contemplating the solipsism of passengerless cars rushing by on the expressway. I do not know who put this particular graffiti there, but I smile a little every morning as I walk by it.